Drag Illustrated Issue 175, March / April 2022 - Page 89

headed down to Pevely , Missouri , for Mark ’ s court date to determine his fate . All signs pointed to a stiff punishment .
“ We get down there to the courthouse and it ’ s like a wedding ,” Woodruff says . “ We got one side of the courthouse and it ’ s all city officials , and then a couple of people on my side . They ’ re ready to hang me .”
The judge called Woodruff ’ s name , and his father and their lawyer stand up . The judge then said he wants to speak with the driver , and to everyone ’ s surprise , he asked to speak with Woodruff in his chambers , away from the rest of the people gathered in the courtroom .
“ We went back there and he ’ s like , ‘ I know you ’ re not a bad kid , you just made a dumb mistake . This whole town wants to hang you , but I ain ’ t going to let it happen .’ I ’ m like , ‘ Really ?’”
The judge proceeded to tell Woodruff that he was starting a high school program at the local dragstrip , I-55 Dragway . Called the Teen Street Stock program , it would take place on Friday nights as a way to deter high school age drivers from racing on the street .
“ He said , ‘ You ’ re on two years ’ probation . You ’ ve got to be there every Friday night and bring a new friend . That ’ s going to be your probation . If you do that , I ’ m going to put all this stuff to rest .’”
Woodruff used to go to the track as a spectator before he was old enough to drive , so court-ordered weekly trips to the dragstrip was a dream sentencing . He gladly took the punishment , and even won back-to-back Teen Street Stock championships .
“ We were bracket racing with a stick-shift Ford Escort and everybody at school would laugh ,” Woodruff says . “ I had buddies with fast cars and we would all race . Hell , I ended up getting probably half the school going there by the time it was over with . We ’ d all go down to the track , hang out , goof off , and do our thing .”
The creative punishment had its intended effect on Woodruff and the local community , but for Woodruff , it did more than take him off the street . It set a hook that keeps pulling him back to the dragstrip more than 30 years later .
“ That judge single-handedly probably ... well , he started my drag racing career , for sure ,” Woodruff says . “ It was the dumbest smart move I ’ ve ever made in my life . But , I wouldn ’ t recommend it to anybody . Especially in today ’ s day and age .”
Eddyville Raceway Park in Iowa , and Gateway International Raceway ( now known as World Wide Technology Raceway ) in Madison , Illinois .
“ I ’ d run at the Wild Wednesday Nights or the Street Car Wednesday nights at Gateway ,” Woodruff says , “ and I held the record over there for a couple of years . I think I went like 189 mph or something like that in the quarter back then . It was a pretty serious street car .”
As a street car , the Nova ended up in plenty of street races in St . Louis and around Memphis when Woodruff would head south for Super Chevy or Fastest Street Car races at Memphis International Raceway .
“ That escalated into going to Sikeston and running the street car / True 10.5 stuff and the Outlaw 10.5 stuff , and that ’ s where I met [ Mark ] Micke and all those guys . I did the Ozark series , and then the Eddyville deal , and there was ORSCA Limited Street , and year after year , we
GOING DRAG RACING IS ALL ABOUT HAVING FUN WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR WOODRUFF , AND THAT ’ S EVIDENT WHETHER HE ’ S HANGING OUT IN THE PITS OR STRAPPED INTO HIS TWIN-TURBO CORVETTE . just progressively got into it deeper and deeper .”
As the ORSCA era was coming to a close , a new chapter of small-tire racing history was beginning , and Woodruff was one of the characters . He attended Donald “ Duck ” Long ’ s first-ever Lights Out drag radial race at South Georgia Motorsports Park in 2010 as a spectator , then came back with his Nova for the second running of the now-infamous race .
“ We had run ORSCA Limited Street for a lot of years , so coming to this event , it was the same people we used to race with ,” Woodruff said in a 2019 interview with DI ’ s Josh Hachat . “ It was all the big-name radial guys back then and it was awesome . You could see something exciting happening .”
Ever since Lights Out 2 , Woodruff has been a staunch supporter of Long and his Duck X Productions events . As a racer and as a fan of the sport , he ’ s witnessed some of the biggest

Woodruff ’ s fixation with drag racing escalated after those high school drags , as he bought a ’ 69 Nova that started out with a 406ci small-block motor with a nitrous plate on it . He drove it back and forth to work every day , but it eventually outgrew that task . He upgraded to a big block before stepping up again to serious race motors – a Fulton 615 with Big Chief heads , then a Buck 706 .

Woodruff raced the Nova at several tracks within a few hours ’ drive from home , including Ozark Raceway Park in Rogersville , Missouri ,
March / April 2022